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Tesla Model X


Porsche Cayenne

Summary

Tesla Model X

Richard Berry road tests and reviews the Tesla Model X SUV, with specs, energy consumption and verdict at its Australian launch in Victoria.

At some point Tesla need to come clean... and admit they're aliens. That they're the first fleet of colonists belonging to a super advanced civilisation from another planet.

How else are their vehicles so fast? How else can they travel so far on electricity alone and then be charged so quickly? And how is it they've mastered fully autonomous technology while other car companies are just dabbling with experimental self-driving tech?

Wake up people, Elon Musk isn't Tesla's CEO he's General Eeeekbleeeergh from Centauri 1. Come on, his really bad human mask is a dead giveaway.

Okay, maybe not. But we were mighty impressed with the Model S when we reviewed it and now the Model X large SUV has arrived in Australia. Like the Model S the Model X is completely electric, and with a best 0-100km/h claim of 3.1s that doesn't just make it the fastest accelerating SUV around, it's actually one of the quickest cars on the planet.

So does this new gift from our alien overlords live up to the hype? Maybe it's quick to 100km/h but does it handle like a block of cheese at the first corner? Is it a practical SUV? Does it tow? And what made me want to throw up? We found out by piloting the angriest one in the range - the P100D.

Safety rating
Engine Type
Fuel TypeElectric
Fuel Efficiency—L/100km
Seating5 seats

Porsche Cayenne

It was only a matter of time. More than a decade ago BMW kicked off the German luxury SUV coupe 'thing' with the X6, followed by the smaller X4.

Mercedes-Benz returned serve with its GLE and GLC Coupes, and more recently Audi has joined the party with the Q8. Now the domino effect has reached Porsche, with the Australian introduction of this car – the Cayenne Coupe.

Question is, does its carefully sculpted form compromise its intended SUV function? Happily, Porsche invited us to the local launch drive program, so we can find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type4.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency—L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Tesla Model X8.6/10

Hugely impressive all round – from its brutal acceleration to its practicality. It's expensive when optioned to the hilt, but this is a special car. I miss the noise of petrol engines, though and the drama which goes with it. Alien technology, then? Nope, more likely the future of human travel. Just make sure you have the stomach for it.

Would you pick a Model X over an X6 or GLE Coupe? Tell us what you think in the comments below.


Porsche Cayenne7.8/10

The Cayenne Coupe is a logical extension of Porsche's determined push into the world of SUVs, yet logic isn't the key driver here.

Not cheap at any level, it's an emotional choice that's all about the optics. A swoopy, beautifully proportioned beast that'll poke your adrenal gland as effectively as it'll carry your kids and groceries.

Our pick is the twin-turbo V6 S. Massive performance and plenty of fruit without the top-shelf price tag.

Design

Tesla Model X8/10

I'm pretty sure the designer who came up with the shape for the Model X was sitting at his computer and looked down at the mouse in his hand and said: "That's it! Now where are we having lunch?"

With coupe styling similar to BMW's X6 and Mercedes-Benz's GLE Coupe and with short overhangs like them too, the Model X is one sleek hunk of SUV. Actually at the time of writing the Model X is officially the most aerodynamic SUV on earth with a drag coefficient of 0.24, that makes it 0.01 slipperier than the Audi Q8 SUV Concept.

The Q8 will come as a fully electric SUV like the Model X, but the Benz GLE Coupe and BMW X6 run are powered by diesel and petrol only. The closest electric equivalent is the GLE 500e and the X5 xDrive 40e, but these are plug-in hybrids that still use petrol. The Model X is far closer in shape, size and spirit to the GLE Coupe and X6 - it's just that their electric versions haven't been born yet.

The Model X is just short of drop-dead gorgeous, just short because there are some elements which while they may make aerodynamic sense aren't that aesthetically pleasing. Sure electric cars don't need a grille, but its face is a bit plain without a mouth. The way the rear of the car ends abruptly like it's been sawn off reminds me of the Toyota Prius's bottom.

What makes it possible to overlook these not-so-pretty points are stunning design features such as the massive swept back windscreen, the wheel arches filled with giant 22-inch rims and those upward opening Falcon Wing doors.

That slippery shape also hides just how enormous the Model X is but the dimensions don't. At 5037mm end to end the Model X is 137mm longer than the Benz GLE Coupe and 128mm more than the BMW X6. The width with mirrors folded out is 2271mm which is 142mm wider than the GLE Coupe and 101mm  more than the X6. But at 1680mm the Model X isn't as tall as them – the GLE coupe is 1709mm and the X6 is 1702mm.

Ground clearance ranges from 137-211mm, which is not bad for an SUV.

It may be an SUV but the Model X has all the Tesla hallmarks – from that window profile to the featureless face. The same goes for the cabin with its giant display, beautiful high-quality materials and stylish design.


Porsche Cayenne8/10

Porsche describes the Cayenne Coupe as a "more progressive, athletic and emotional" version of the third-generation Cayenne, and it's hard to disagree with that assertion.

The Cayenne Coupe's nose and front doors are unchanged from its more upright sibling, but the car is in fact fractionally longer, lower and wider (at the rear). LED headlights are standard across the board with the Porsche Dynamic Light System fitted to all but the entry-level car. That brings swivelling main beams and static cornering lights.

The windscreen angle is shallower and the front roof edge has been lowered 20mm. And the steeper roofline falls gently to the rear, and you start to see the impact of an extra 18mm of width back there.

Other tweaks include repositioning of the rear numberplate into the bumper and an adaptive rear spoiler which extends by 135mm at speeds of 90km/h and above.

The cabin will be familiar to current Cayenne owners, the front section essentially unchanged with a broad centre console and configurable media and instrument displays. The biggest changes inside are in the back.

Standard fit is effectively a two-seat rear, although the 'comfort' three-seater rear bench from the Cayenne is available as a no-cost option.

A huge panoramic fixed glass roof is standard but if you want to go full racer spec a carbon turret is optional.

Practicality

Tesla Model X8/10

Yes it's fast and electric but if you take the utility out of an SUV you're left with just a sports vehicle, right? So the Model X needs to be practical – and it is.

There are five seats as standard, but you can option six or seven seat layouts. The GLE coupe, the X6, even the Q8 (when it finally arrives) only have room for five. All are individual buckets seats in the Model X – two in the front, three in the second row and two more in the third in the case of the seven seater.

Now the real test. I'm 191cm tall, so apart from being refused entry onto some amusement park rides sitting behind my own driving position can be a challenge in various cars. In the Model X I fit but with about a thumb nail's gap – which is fine. Headroom is good because of the recessed windows in the Falcon Wing doors' which become the roof when closed.

The P100D we drove was optioned with seven seats. Back in the third row headroom is limited because of the roofline. Legroom is adjustable because the second row seat can slide forward but I couldn't sit behind myself. The third row really is for kids or Danny DeVito – entry though is excellent thanks to that sliding second row.

Storage is good with six cup holders (two in each row of seats), medium sized bottle holders in the front doors (the back doors don't because, gravity), a large centre console bin, and a glovebox.

There's no engine under the bonnet and so it becomes a front boot (a froot?). The combined luggage capacity of the froot and the back boot (with the third row folded) is 2180 litres.

All doors open automatically – the front ones and the rear Falcon wings. They are a bit slow and forcing them only makes them grind their motors angrily. They're a great party trick but if you're getting in and out frequently – as I was when doing the photo shoot, they become a hassle.

The Falcon doors are clever, though, in that they can open in just 30cm of space either side of the vehicle.


Porsche Cayenne8/10

At just under 5.0m long, a little under 2.2m wide and close to 1.7m tall the Cayenne Coupe is a sizeable machine, and those in the front, divided by that wide, tapered centre console, are provided with plenty of space.

In terms of storage, there are two cupholders in that console as well as a small oddments tray, a lidded armrest/storage box between the seats, a decent glove box, and big bins in the doors with room for large bottles.

There are two 12-volt outlets, but be prepared if you're a USB-A user (Luddite?), there are two outlets in that centre storage box, and they're both USB-C.

Rear passengers sit 30mm lower than in the standard Cayenne and sitting behind the driver's seat set for my 183cm height, I enjoyed plenty of head and legroom. So here, the coupe roofline factor, isn't much of a factor at all. And the backrest angle is adjustable, which is a nice touch.

There are two cupholders in the fold down centre armrest, map pockets on the back of the front seats as well as individual ventilation outlets and two more USB (C) jacks.

The boot is where the rubber hits the road in terms of practicality, and despite the sloping rear end boot capacity is still generous in the first three models – 625 litres with the rear seat upright, for the Coupe and S Coupe, expanding to more than 1540 litres with the 40/20/40 split-folding backrest lowered.

The Turbo shrinks slightly to 600/1510L, and the addition of the Turbo S E-Hybrid's Lithium-Ion battery pack, electric motor and associated componentry means its cargo capacity is reduced by around 17 per cent to 500/1440L.

There are tie-down anchors at each corner of the floor, a 12-volt outlet, good lighting, and the spare is a collapsible space saver.

Maximum towing capacity for the non-hybrid models is 3.5 tonnes for a braked trailer (Turbo S E-Hybrid 3.0 tonnes) and 750kg unbraked. Porsche's 'Trailer Stability Management' system is standard.

Price and features

Tesla Model X9/10

The P100D is the king of Model Xs (the P stands for Performance, the D for Dual motors) and has a list price of $271,987. Under this is the $194,039 100D, then below that is the 90D for $187,671 and then the line-up's 75D entry variant for $166,488.

Yes the P100D we drove is $100K more than the entry car, but you do get some sweet standard features.  Things like the Ludicrous Speed Upgrade which drops the 0-100km/h time from 5.0 seconds to 3.1 seconds. There's the higher capacity battery for increased range and performance, plus the rear spoiler with three height settings. The Falcon wing doors are standard, too.

Other standard features found on each variant include the 17-inch touch screen, nine-speaker sound system with Bluetooth connectivity and front and rear parking sensors. Not counting the reversing camera the Model X also comes equipped with seven other cameras – these are for the Enhanced Autopilot self-driving option ($7500) which is currently being developed but will be rolled out soon according to Tesla.

Standard as a five seater, a six seat option costs $4500 and seven seats will need you to part with $6000.

Our test vehicle was also fitted with the optional Towing Package – yup you can tow with the Model X. It's braked towing capacity is 2500kg.

Our test car with all of its options was pushing the $300K mark.


Porsche Cayenne7/10

The Cayenne Coupe launches with four models with prices ranging from close to $130,000 to just over $290,000, before on-road costs, a slight price premium over the existing Cayenne line-up. Key competitors are the usual German suspects in the shape of the Audi A8, BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.

Entry point is the Cayenne Coupe at $128,000, followed by the S at $166,200, then the Turbo steps up to $253,600, with the flagship Turbo S E-Hybrid weighing in at $292,700.

Above and beyond the safety tech covered separately in the Safety section, standard features on the Cayenne Coupe include: the Sport Chrono system, 20-inch alloy rims, 'Porsche Active Aerodynamics' (with adaptive rear spoiler), LED headlights, 'four-point' daytime running lights and tail-lights, auto rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, panoramic roof, privacy glass, eight-way electrically adjustable sports front seats with driver memory package (14-way 'Comfort' front seats are a no-cost option), partial leather interior, multi-function sports steering wheel with manual shift paddles, gloss black interior elements, stainless steel sill guards, 10-speaker hi-fi audio (with digital radio), auto tailgate, cruise control, 12.0-inch touchscreen display managing navigation, audio and car systems, plus twin scrollable digital screens in the instrument display.

The S adds: air suspension, 21-inch alloy rims, metallic paint, twin dual-tube tailpipes, the 'Porsche Dynamic Light System', front seat heating, stainless steel pedal covers, and Bose 14-speaker/710W Surround Sound audio.

On top of that the Turbo lands: 'Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control', 22-inch wheels, the rear apron in the exterior colour, ambient lighting, four-zone climate control, 18-way electric 'Adaptive Sports' front seats with memory package, seat heating (front and rear), front seat ventilation, 'Comfort Access', a 'smooth-finish' leather interior, steering wheel heating, interior trim package in brushed aluminium, and floor mats.

Then, aside from ridiculous performance, the Turbo S E-Hybrid tips in with: 'Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus', recuperative braking, 22-inch 'RS Spyder' design wheels (including wheel arch extensions in the exterior colour), and 'Parking pre-climatisation'.

Engine & trans

Tesla Model X9/10

The Model X is all wheel drive. The P100D has a 193kW/330Nm at the front axle and a 375kW/600Nm at the rear; the rest of the variants just have the 193kW/330Nm motor front and rear.

There is no transmission in the traditional sense, just a single fixed ratio (1:8.28) gear. That means smooth, strong instantaneous oomph.


Porsche Cayenne9/10

All Porsche Cayenne Coupe engines feature an all-alloy construction, and direct-injection, with the cylinders arranged in a vee - the Coupe and S featuring six, the Turbo and Turbo S E-Hybrid, eight. Outputs range from properly powerful to utterly outrageous

The Cayenne Coupe is powered by a 3.0-litre (single, twin-scroll) turbo V6 featuring 'VarioCam Plus' (variable valve timing and lift on the inlet side) to produce 250kW/450Nm.

A 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 (as used in Audi's RS5) sits under the S's bonnet, producing a hefty 324kW/550Nm, while the Turbo's 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 pumps out 404kW/770Nm.

The Big Kahuna Turbo S E-Hybrid precisely doubles the base car's peak numbers. Yep, 500kW (670hp!) and 900Nm.

Central location of the V8's twin-scroll counter-rotating turbos in the inner 'hot V' (between the cylinder banks) optimises packaging and improves throttle response by shortening shortens the length of the exhaust plumbing to the turbos and the distance compressed air travels back to the intake side of the engine.

Iron coating of the cylinder linings and a chrome nitrite finish on the piston rings is claimed to improve durability and reduce oil consumption by up to 50 per cent compared to Porsche's previous 4.8-litre naturally aspirated V8.

All models feature Porsche's eight-speed 'Tiptronic' 'Shift-by-Wire' auto transmission, with drive going to all four wheels via an active AWD system built around an electronically variable, map-controlled, multi-plate clutch.

Fuel consumption

Tesla Model X9/10

The P100D has a 100kWh battery pack which is stored under the floor. The NEDC official range for the P100d is 542km, but in reality Tesla says that your range on a full charge is about 100k less than that.

The 100D also has the 100kWh battery, but with a range of 656km NEDC. Following on from that is the 90D with a 90kWh (489km) and the 75D with the 75kWh battery (417km).

Charging through one of Tesla's Supercharger stations will put 270km into the battery in 20 minutes, while the wall unit which comes free (you have to pay to install it) will top it up at 40km per hour. There's also a charging cable which will plug straight into your power point at home – it's a lot slower at about 10-15km per hour but fine as a last resort.


Porsche Cayenne7/10

At this stage, Porsche is quoting combined cycle (urban, extra-urban) fuel economy figures in line with Euro 5 standards, ranging from 4.4L/100km for the Turbo S E-Hybrid, through 9.9L/100km for the 'base' V6, through 10.0L/100km for the S, to the thirstiest model, the Turbo, at 12.3L/100km.

CO2 emissions start at 100g/km (Turbo S E-Hybrid), rising to 225g/km (Coupe), through 229g/km (S), and finishing at 280g/km (Turbo).

Auto start-stop, with coasting function, is standard on the non-hybrid models, minimum fuel requirement is 95 RON premium unleaded, and you'll need 75 litres of it to fill the hybrid's tank, rising up to 90 litres for the other models.

Swapping through multiple models, with multiple drivers, on the media launch made it impossible to capture meaningful 'real world' figures, so we'll wait until a Cayenne Coupe hits the CarsGuide garage to record our own numbers.

Driving

Tesla Model X9/10

I've had a couple of brushes with car sickness in the past, but never as a driver – until now. So full-on is the Model X P100Ds acceleration and my need to drive every car like it's a rally stage that I managed to make myself a little bit... ahem queasy.

It's not so much car sick, as train sick because piloting the Model X is like driving a high speed train – you've got that instantaneous sledgehammer acceleration, you're seated fairly high and the view from the cockpit with the giant windscreen (the largest in production) is cinematic. The bonnet is short and dips away so much so that the base of the windscreen appears to be the front of the car. Combine this with almost total silence and the only indication that you're travelling at warp speed is what feels like a punch in the guts and the landscape rushing towards you.

It's almost totally silent because there is a faraway hum of electric motors and I also picked up a bit of wind noise that seemed to come from around the rear doors. Apart from that the cabin is so well insulated there was next to no road noise.

How did it handle when it came to the first corner? Gobsmackingly well. The course wasn't an easy one either. Tesla had chosen the Black Spur – one of the best driving roads in Victoria that twists its way from Healesville to Marysville. I've driven it in everything from hot hatches to family sedans, but the Model X would be up there in proper sports car territory.

With the batteries running along the floor there's a low centre of mass and that goes a long way to reducing body roll and the air suspension not only gives the SUV a comfortable ride but great handling too.

Steering is on the heavier side, but it's quick and accurate.

Braking is almost not needed. As soon as you lift off the accelerator regenerative braking washes off speed quickly.

The driver's seat felt a bit tight around my legs - blame my height – but comfortable across my back - a bit on the firmer side through – some would say supportive.

While forward visibility is unrivalled, the small back window is hard to see through – the reversing camera is excellent, however.

The drive was only a short one, but in my 50km blast I used an average of 329Wh/km. The car wasn't fully charged when I set out and the gauge told me it had about 230km 'in the tank'. Upon returning there was just 138km left – but I was driving hard enough for me to make myself sick.


Porsche Cayenne8/10

And as engine outputs rise, 0-100km/h acceleration times drop from an impressively rapid 6.0sec for the entry Coupe, through 5.0sec for the S, to 3.9sec for the Turbo, and 3.8sec for the Turbo S Hybrid. The Hybrid's more than 300kg heavier than the Turbo, so only a tenth faster.

Even in the base Coupe thrust is solid, urgent in the S, and brutal in the Turbo. Although it's already on sale in dealerships, the Turbo S E-Hybrid was a no-show at the media launch, but we'll be driving and reviewing one on home soil soon.

Despite turbos sitting in the way of a pure exhaust flow, the accompanying engine note and exhaust rumble is satisfyingly tough. Push hard in the Turbo and the howl emanating from the rear envelops the entire car.

All models feature Porsche's eight-speed 'Tiptronic' 'Shift-by-Wire' auto transmission, and it's just about as good as a conventional torque-convertor unit gets. Smooth yet precise, and satisfyingly quick in manual mode.

All models are equipped with 'Porsche Active Suspension Management', better known as PASM, which allows for on-the-fly suspension tuning to a firmer setting, plus air suspension on the top three models. Suspension is aluminium multi-link front and rear.

The Cayenne Coupe rides on 20-inch alloy wheels, the S on 21s, while the Turbo and Turbo S E-Hybrid roll on 22s, and the ride comfort / handling balance is amazingly good.

The Sport Chrono package is also standard on all variants enabling adjustment of chassis, engine, and transmission response through 'Normal', 'Sport', 'Sport+' and 'Individual' settings.

Select Sport or Sport+, then soften the suspension off to the Comfort setting and you have a perfect open road combination. This is a superb touring car.

Despite a bonnet, tailgate, doors, side sections, roof and front wings fabricated in aluminium, kerb weights are pretty chunky. The Coupe and S weigh just above 2.0 tonnes, the Turbo is 2.2 and the Turbo S E-Hybrid tips the scales at 2.5 big ones. But all models feel planted and well balanced on a quick B-road run.

And then there's the little Sport Response button in the centre of the Sport Chrono mode dial on the steering wheel. It's essentially a short-cut to Sport+, which tightens up responses and allows the turbos to overboost for a short period. Hit it and you have a 'push-to-pass' pick up for up to 20 seconds.

Electromechanical 'Power Steering Plus' features on all models and it's flat-out brilliant. Accurate, with great road feel and spot-on (variable) weight.

And brakes range from big to enormous, with professional grade ventilated rotors all around and four-piston front calipers on the Coupe, six-piston units on the S, and no less than 10-piston aluminium monobloc monsters on the Turbo and Hybrid. They all work in a fuss-free, confidence-inspiring way.

We covered some smooth graded dirt roads on the launch drive and Porsche is confident in the Cayenne Coupe's ability in tougher off-road terrain.

Air suspension models can be switched between 'Normal', 'Gravel', 'Mud', 'Sand', and 'Rock' modes and for the hardcore adventurers maximum clearance (between the ground and water-sensitive parts) is 500mm for the Coupe, 530mm for the S and Turbo, dropping to just 280mm for the Turbo S E-Hybrid.

Approach angle for the Coupe is 25.2 degrees (27.5 for the other models), break over is 18.7 degrees (21.3), and departure angle is 22 degrees for the Coupe, 24.2 for the S and Turbo, then 24.4 degrees for the Turbo S E-Hybrid.

Safety

Tesla Model X9/10

The Model X does not yet have an ANCAP rating, but all the signs are there that it is likely to easily score the maximum five stars. There's 12 airbags, AEB and when once the Enhanced Autopliot software is ready for download it will be fully autonomous, meaning it will drive you to where ever you need to go without you having to steer it – but check the regulations in your area before you get carried away with this, okay?

There were ISOFIX mounts and top tether points in all five of the back seats in our test car.


Porsche Cayenne8/10

The Cayenne Coupe hasn't been assessed by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, but its outstanding dynamics go a long way towards avoiding a crash.

Specific features include ABS, BA, forward collision warning, stability and traction controls, lane departure warning (including road sign recognition) and AEB.

You'll also pick up a reversing camera, 'Parking Distance Control' (front and rear) and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

But if all that fails to prevent a crash the airbag count runs to eight (dual front, dual front side, curtain and knee bags for the driver and front passenger).

An active bonnet helps minimise pedestrian injuries and there are two top tether points and ISOFIX anchors for child seats/baby capsules in the two rear positions.

Ownership

Tesla Model X8/10

The Model X is covered by a four year/80,000km warranty, while the battery and drive unit has an eight year infinite kilometre warranty.


Porsche Cayenne7/10

The Australian Porsche range is covered by a three year/unlimited km warranty, which, like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz lags behind the mainstream market where the majority of players are now at five years/unlimited km, with some at seven years.

But a 12-year (unlimited km) anti-corrosion warranty is included, as is twenty-four-hour roadside assistance, renewed every time you service your car at an authorised Porsche centre.

The main service interval is 12 months/15,000km, and no capped price servicing is available, with final costs determined at the dealer level (in line with variable labour costs by state/territory).